I have heard (but cannot find the study, so take it with a grain of salt) young believers attending non-Christian schools can cause them to question, and maybe lose their faith. I suppose, then, attending a Christian college would only serve to strengthen that faith. But my college experience seemed to bring up more questions for me about faith. Not my own, necessarily, but faith in general, and about what we believe. Such as, “What if the freedoms we enjoy as Americans, to worship as we feel led, to speak of our religious beliefs (and to be tolerant of others’), what if these freedoms have only served to water down the message of the gospel of Jesus?”
“And what about this ‘pocket Jesus’ trend, the ‘Jesus genie-in-a-bottle’ mentality. ‘(Poof!) What d’ya need? (Poof!) What d’ya need? (Poof!) What d’ya need?’ (Not so much a Disney fan as a fan of the late Robin Williams.)
The idea that He is only here to grant our wishes only serves to emphasize the toddler-esque, egocentricity of humans. Not to say He doesn’t provide what we NEED. The 23rd Psalm is a great picture of this: “The Lord is my shepherd…” But let’s get a little perspective here, people. It’s not all Mary’s little lamb with snow white fleece. No! Sheep are dumb, so dumb, and completely helpless. They cannot defend themselves. And sheep are GROSS! They certainly cannot clean themselves. Stinky, muddy, stuff stuck to the wool.
“Dude, what’s that? What do you have stuck in your wool?”
“I don’t know, but the shepherd will take care of this, he knows what we need.”
I find it incredibly humbling to think of myself as a stinky, helpless sheep, needing the shepherd for everything! Particularly humbling to think of a shepherd snipping certain little (ahem) nuggets off your fluffy behind.
Admittedly, these deep questions didn’t start with college. One particular question I remember from childhood. I wondered if we would have to answer on judgment day for driving. (I still wonder). This was before texting, y’all! The country roads out to Grandma’s house often had something on the road. A skunk, a raccoon, a deer L.
What were we doing? We were charged with taking care of the earth. But in our hurry to get here and there and everywhere, we were taking out innocent animals! Are we going to get in trouble for this?
Imagine this child growing up and (gasp!) hitting a dog. Sure it was running down the middle of my lane, in the dark. I tried to miss it (luckily no one was coming the opposite direction or this may never have been written). With this question still in my mind, I was devastated. I commanded it, in the name of Jesus, to stand up and walk. I am not kidding. No zombie dog jokes here, people. But sometimes our prayers are not answered.
Even with some of these questions, my faith stayed pretty much the same, simple and straightforward. It was like having a little puzzle. Everything fits together so neatly and it looks exactly like the picture on the box.
Ane them, about a year and a half ago I met someone. A wonderful scholar, an energetic teacher and a dear friend. I love teachers like her. Someone so passionate and excited about the subject, it’s contagious. You cannot help but soak up some of that knowledge.
And do you know what he did? She gave me more puzzle pieces. A lot of pieces. And no picture on the box. My little puzzle is only part of the whole. There is more.
Good thing I LOVE puzzles.
And this has led me to some new questions.
“Who was Jesus in the conversation of his time? To Israel? To the Gentiles?”
“How can one fundamentally believe the Bible unless one understands the context(s) in which it was written?”
“How do we reconcile the crucifixion in a religion which believes human sacrifice is unacceptable?”
“What is death and where do we go/what happens?”
And this one, last night, in conversation with my husband: “Do angels have wings? And what about halos? I don’t remember anything in the Bible about halos.
(But give me a tiara and I will rock that!)
Fortunately, I am not the only one trying to put together this puzzle. I have a few friends gathered around this table with me, trying pieces this way and that.
And as we pray for guidance in this endeavor, we also give thanks for our freedoms, freedom to gather, freedom to study and dig deep in to the word of God, freedom to have these conversations.